Initially released in December 1967 and described latterly by Rolling Stone as ‘The Who’s finest album’ The Who Sell Out reflected a remarkable year in popular culture. As well as being forever immortalised as the moment when the counterculture and the ‘Love Generation’ became a global phenomenon and ‘pop’ began metamorphosing into ‘rock’.
The Who Sell Out was originally planned by Pete Townshend and the band’s managers, Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp, as a loose concept album including jingles and commercials linking the songs stylised as a pirate radio broadcast. This concept was born out of necessity as their label and management wanted a new album and Townshend felt that he didn’t have enough songs.
The ground-breaking original plan for The Who Sell Out was to sell advertising space on the album but instead the band opted for writing their own jingles, paying tribute to pirate radio stations and to parody an increasingly consumerist society.
The Who Sell Out is a bold depiction of the period in which it was made, the tail-end of the ‘swinging 60s’ meets Pop art mixed with psychedelia and straight-ahead pop. It’s a glorious blend of classic powerful Who instrumentation, melodic harmonies, satirical lyrical imagery crystallised for what was only the group’s third album. The album’s ambition and scope is unrivalled by The Who, or any other act from that period.
Within the bold concept, were a batch of fabulous and diverse songs. ‘I Can See for Miles’, a top ten hit at the time, is a Who classic. ‘Rael’, a Townshend ‘mini-opera’ with musical motifs that reappeared in Tommy and the psychedelic blast of ‘Armenia City In The Sky’ and ‘Relax’ are among the very best material anyone wrote during the 1960s.
“We were hoping to get free Jaguars. We got fifty free tins of baked beans.” ~ PETE TOWNSHEND, 2020
The Who - The Who Sell Out (Deluxe)
LP ONE: THE ORIGINAL ALBUM IN STEREO
1. Armenia City in The Sky 3:47
2. Heinz Baked Beans 0:58
3. Mary Anne With the Shaky Hand 2:34
4. Odorono 2:30
5. Tattoo 2:48
6. Our Love Was 3:23
7. I Can See for Miles 4:06
1. I Can’t Reach You 3:27
2. Medac 0:56
3. Relax 2:38
4. Silas Stingy 3:03
5. Sunrise 3:04
6. Rael / Track Records run-off groove 5:54
LP TWO: BONUS TRACKS IN STEREO
1 Mary Anne With the Shaky Hand (US single version) 3:27
2 Someone’s Coming 2:33
3 Summertime Blues 2:38
4 Glittering Girl 3:05
5 Early Morning Cold Taxi 2:59
6 Girl’s Eyes 2:52
1 Coke After Coke 1:09
2 Sodding About 2:51
3 Things Go Better with Coke 0:32
4 In The Hall Of The Mountain King 4:27
5 Jaguar 2:58
6 Rael (remake; IBC version) Track Records outro 6:10